An ice chest works fine when taking a day trip into the backcountry, but if an extended outback foray is planned, melted ice and spoiled food are unwelcome companions. A fridge freezer should be on everyone's equipment list.
EvaKool was established in 1994 in Queensland, Australia, primarily as a manufacturer of fiberglass coolers designed for harsh Australian conditions. Since then, EvaKool has expanded operations to become Australia's largest manufacturer of fiberglass coolers and 12-volt portable fridge freezers. While products have been available in the USA since 1998, EvaKool established itself in the U.S. as EvaKool-USA LLC in 2011, offering the same great products that made EvaKool great in Australia and around the world.
Our EvaKool KoolMate IB50 48.5-quart fridge freezer can cool up to 90 degrees below ambient temperature and has a “turbo” mode for quick cooling. The average power draw is about 50 watts. It runs on 12- or 24-volt DC power with adjustable low-voltage protection, so our fridge never leaves us with a dead battery in the backcountry. Our fridge freezer also comes with an AC adapter so we can plug it into a wall outlet if we need to run it in the shop. The ABS lid and polypropylene cabinet are durable and the smooth molded liner inhibits bacteria growth, doesn't harbor odors, and wipes clean with a damp cloth. The IB50 comes with a basket, removable divider, and separate dairy compartment for efficient cold storage. An internal LED light illuminates nighttime raids on the fridge.
The digital control panel displays the temperature setting and current fridge freezer temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius. It has a "max" setting, or an "eco" mode that cuts down on power usage. The power cord has a 90-degree plug that makes it easier to carry the IB50 in tight places. One gripe—the 12-volt power cord could be three times longer than it is. Besides the DC plug-in point and three-stage battery protection switch, the power panel has an easily accessible 15-amp fuse.
Our EvaKool KoolMate IB50 fridge freezer is now a companion on all of our backcountry exploring trips. Even day trips are easier as we never have to find ice in a place such as Moab, where it can cost more than $2 a bag. Our food and beverages are kept cold and dry by the efficient, quiet Danfoss compressor, and the 48.5-quart capacity can carry up to 73 12-ounce cans!